E.T. found home

The alien species Boov live… elsewhere. Not on Earth anyway, not yet. Boov move themselves around the galaxy in fear of the oncoming Gorg, those dark and pointy aliens integral to any story about world-conquering beings.

How then the Boov understand – and laugh – at an Earth-based pop culture pun about rapper Busta Ryhmes is not terribly clear. Either Busta’s career has unknown universal allure or Home is never concerned about its logic. Not that kid’s movies about planet popping aliens need to make sense. It’s merely a distraction to an otherwise inclusive and friendly fish-out-of-water journey.

This is a beautifully animated work, even if the content which Home holds is often pedestrian. Casting 28 year-old Rihanna to play a 13-ish year old girl named Gratuity is just marketing fuzz, and said girl’s bonding with a Boov critter, Oh, flows as predicted once the beings arrive on our blue dot.

Leading Home however, even saving it, is a passable adventure panning across the world in a manic chase to find a missing mother and in conjunction, save everything from the Gorg. There’s mistrust and friendship abound in a narrative designed around bonding – and selling Rhianna’s Home-made singles. On this interpretation of Earth, she’s apparently the lone recording artist.

Demographics are not split, nor does Home feel inaccessible.

While Home is little more than an animated story about a lead character and comedic sidekick (which seems to be all of American animation anymore), there is a benefit of Dreamworks showing a willingness to branch out. Home breaches a race barrier which has impacted mainstream animation with few exceptions, say Disney’s Princess & the Frog. Importantly, Home treats the scenario without drawing attention to it. Demographics are not split, nor does Home feel inaccessible to anyone. Its culture is safely middle class. Of course, kids won’t notice because kids won’t care – unless they’ve been told to.

Shame then the representation becomes Home’s stand-out quality, buried under its routine story presentation and flow. Characters despise/fear one another, bond, break-up, and in time for the finale, make peace. There are flashy, noisy chases and an inevitable twist which keep Home ineffectually perky. A narrative following a long since worn out groove feels overly restricted, like the studio clamped down in fear. That has been a standard for Dreamworks, who despite performing admirably, tend to leash themselves to the medium’s dire tropes. The bravery in story design is missing and as such, so is much of Home’s potential gusto. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Relocation @ 4:42

Bursting with ever adapting color, Home is a necessary disc for color tests. Beyond the slightly varying purples used for the Boov, there is changing wardrobe, changing locations, changing moods, and changing light. Boov flip their skin hue to represent mood or emotion. Fear, laughter, happiness, lying; each brings on a new shade to appreciate. They’re all inside of a film hyper about its saturation.

Aiming young means a movie which is predominantly bright, flushed with contrast throughout. Even if night falls, the visual energy is not lost. Encoding work is challenged too, from spraying glitter to screens filling with moving bubbles. Compression is invisible even when battling this amount of motion.

What might appear plain elsewhere, say in trailers on cable, is exquisite in this full resolution. Home is loaded with high-fidelity texture work. The Blu-ray pulls the meticulous material out for a showcase. Skin texture on humans and Boov is gorgeous. Clothing carries visible stitches and when the camera pans back to show full cities, the sight is remarkable. No aliasing or resolution flubs here. Even when battling against the best computer animation has to offer on this format (and there is a slew of it to consider) Home is still a stand-out.

The other side is 3D, a somewhat minor affair with a handful of bright spots. Namely, the Eiffel Tower swinging into a first-person view is a spectacular exploitation of the format. A few characters pointing things toward the screen carry a tenth of that impact.

Despite things flying about, pop-out effects are mundane. Fall-in material is hardly enthusiastic either. Some shots set low and peering down city streets make themselves noticeable with their depth. Shots of Boov ships crowding the screen do well too, if not extensively. In a competitive market, that’s a killer. [xrr rating=5/5 label=2D-Video] [xrr rating=3/5 label=3D-Video]

Likewise, audio feels squished. With a surround space in full 7.1, those extra rears are hardly in play, this despite ships tracking through the images. A few pans catch in the surrounds to excellent effect. The rest appear to missing. Stray moments of dialogue will push themselves out of the center before retreating back.

LFE is all but lost outside of the music. It’s almost as if it’s purposefully lifted over much of the action to help it stand out. When a Gorg machine begins churning up earth, there is a finally a sense of this movie adding some weight, and then most of it is gone again even though the Gorg weapon continues to move. Again, it’s competition, and Home comes in somewhere around third place. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

Extras stretch themselves thin, providing limited substance and more attachment to character. The Boov are everywhere, with Oh becoming a host of sorts as he dances through Oh’s Party Place. Music videos and shorts about music fill this section, along with some party tips. Three shorts are provided, the main one being Almost Home which acts as a prequel and was used as a trailer. Be an Artist helps kids draw some of their favorite characters, and Stars of Home is an unusually short look at the voice talent (little more than a minute). Some deleted scenes and promos are left. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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